Because I’m a paid mentor who’s worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, you may discount my perspective that every entrepreneur needs a mentor. But as a still-practicing entrepreneur, I can tell you even pro mentors need a mentor.
Entrepreneurship is part art, part science. One can learn the science academically, but the art part is learned experientially, and that’s where the mentor comes in – to head off preventative painful lessons, to help assure the unforeseen tough stuff doesn’t happen again, and to find ways the successes can be replicated predictably. Actually, unless one bases the definition of entrepreneurial success solely on profit, even the science of business requires experienced interpretation to assure an entrepreneur is building business in a way that will meet his/her individual definition of success.
My best mentors, and the results I’ve created mentoring others, teach me what makes a great mentor, a bar I strive to exceed daily. The best mentor is not an accountability coach or consultant. A great mentor:
New entrepreneurs are not the only ones to benefit from mentoring with one who has years of experiential training. Seasoned entrepreneurs also benefit from objective advice from one who has more, or different, experience to ward off blind spots, fill in technical information, provide guidance through ever-changing conditions in every venture, and create focus.
I watch the measurable and intangible value of my conversations each day. They are the reward, and bonus posterity, for all I continue to learn about entrepreneurship and business through the University of Hard Knocks and Cool Opportunities.
Excellent post Dodie. I especially like the idea of bringing out preferences as opposed to imposing opinions. Such an important concept, and something that is far too uncommon!